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redman photo 115 fb kids fav scarf vert headshotHi, everyone!

I couldn’t be more thrilled to have been invited to participate in the celebration of romance throughout the month of August at READ A ROMANCE MONTH. I was lucky enough to get the invitation because I’m lucky in my wonderful friends. A big hug and big thanks go out to the beautiful Lorelei of Lorelei’s Lit Lair for inviting me to participate. Another hurrah to the amazing Bobbi Dumas, founder of RARM, for being so generous and supportive!

lorelei white t shirt
If you missed Lorelei’s guest blog here, I hope you’ll go back and catch it. And don’t miss her RARM essay, which is wonderfully inspiring! She’s one of the sweetest, most generous people you’ll ever meet, and she’s a great friend of all romance writers!
 

THE JOY OF ROMANCE

Have you ever heard this quote?
 
“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.”

The source of those words is unknown or at least interwebally disputed, but I love the quote, because it’s true. It’s true of the best friends, and I’ve always thought it’s also true of the best romance novels.

Dry rose on an old book/ Vintage Books and Roses

Most of us carry the romance “song” in our hearts. If we’re lucky, if we’ve found the person who makes us come alive, we sing it loud and clear, sometimes from the rooftops, carried away by the bliss of it.

But sometimes we can feel as if we’ve completely lost the melody. We can’t remember how it goes, and everything we try comes out sounding harsh, discordant and wrong.

Young lovely smiling woman wonders on flower, tearing petals, close-up.

Maybe we’re facing a failed relationship, or maybe the person with whom we shared that joy has died. Maybe we’re enduring a rough patch in a committed relationship. Maybe we’re just temporarily overwhelmed by life’s other problems—health, money, deadlines, tragedy—and romantic joy seems like a mirage, shining from a shore we can never reach.

In those moments, a great fictional romance can be a lifesaver. Whether it’s a classic, like Heathcliff and Cathy, or something trendy, like Castle and Becket—or even something futuristic, like The Doctor and Rose—love stories remember the song, and they will sing it to us until we’re ready to try again. Like a lighthouse beacon, like a robin in winter, they remind us never to give up hope.

And so, as Read-A-Romance Month begins, I couldn’t be prouder to honor this wonderful genre. It’s been my nearly thirty-year privilege to write stories for you, and it has been indescribably rewarding to get your notes and emails telling me how much they’ve meant to you in times of sorrow or loneliness.

A big, heartfelt thank you to all the readers who have found joy in my books, and to all the other fabulous authors who have offered their “songs” for me to turn to.
Here’s to the joy of romance–and romance novels! May the song play on. ❤

Pink roses and old books on wooden desk

Recommendations:

Have you heard of MIMI WELLS?  Maybe not, because her novella with Tule Publishing has just come out, and it’s only her second published book.  But I hope you’ll make a note to check out THE BILLIONAIRE’S DECEPTION, because it’s fabulous.  All the books in this AMALFI NIGHTS series are (Nancy Robards Thompson, Eve Gaddy, Katherine Garbera and I each have one there, too), and I wholeheartedly recommend every single one.  But I’ve singled out Mimi Wells for a special reason.  I’ve known Mimi for years, and loved her sense of humor and loyalty, her intelligence and spunk.  But when I finally read her work, I was blown away.  She’s marvelous, and I believe she’s someone to watch!

THE ROSIE PROJECT, by Graeme Simsion.  This likely isn’t news for you…I know this book is hugely popular.  But it’s just so wonderful I have to mention it.  I haven’t read the second, THE ROSIE EFFECT, but I can’t wait.  If you’ve read it, please let me know what you think!

AUTHOR QUESTIONS

Describe a moment when you’ve experienced pure joy.

On our tenth anniversary, my husband and I took a trip to Charleston.  We were married in April, so we encountered a city in full spring glory. Wisteria, azalea, dogwood, camillias…everywhere you looked, the gardens were hosting their own parties of riotous color.
closeup roses
I knew he would have planned some special gift, because he’s a traditional kind of guy. No birthday, anniversary, Mother’s Day or special holiday ever passes without roses arriving at the door.  But I also knew he hadn’t brought along anything big enough to notice, so I assumed his gift must be something small…like, perhaps, a jewelry box.

Now, as you probably know, receiving surprise jewelry for a special occasion is a little nerve-wracking, even for someone like me, who isn’t exactly a jewelry fanatic.  What if you don’t really care for the piece? You’ll always cherish the sentiment and affection behind it, but will you love wearing it day in and day out? And what if the absolute worst happens, and he can sense your ambivalence?  Hurting your husband’s feelings on a day like this would be unthinkable.

So when, at our lovely Charthouse steak dinner, I saw him reach into his pocket and pull out a little black velvet box, I was prepared. I’d thought it through, and I knew the jewelry didn’t matter.  Only the love mattered, and we had plenty of that to spare.

heart necklace

And then…I opened the box to find that it held the most exquisite little diamond heart pendant I had ever seen.  It was the pendant I would have dreamed of, if I actually dreamed about jewelry, which I don’t. 🙂 It’s graceful and sparkly without being gaudy, and I was absolutely enchanted. Not only did he care about me…he knew me.  He understood me.  He understood what I would love.
Publicity shot for Kathleen O'Brien Pynn (Kathleen has royalty free license for image)
He put the pendant around my neck that night, and it’s been there ever since.  We just celebrated our 38th wedding anniversary–yes, I was a child bride <g>–so that’s a long, long time. I’ve been forced to take it off now and then, for the births of my children, or mammograms, or cleaning…but otherwise it’s always there.  Sometimes, in tough times, I close my palm around it like a talisman. It holds the memory of that night, and all the nights in between, and the pure joy of being loved and understood.

Tell us about a place that brings you joy, or is attached to a memory of joy.

irene at slea head
Dingle, Ireland.  I’m Irish, and the air in Western Ireland just sings to me.  The little beach at Slea Head, with its caves and winds and its crystal water trickling down stony cliffs, is pure magic.  We traveled there as a family a few years ago.  The day we visited Slea Head, my daughter, who has inherited a slightly aloof dignity from her daddy and isn’t a reckless hugger, had reached the beach first. When I arrived she came running up to me, threw her arms around me, and hugged me until I’m quite sure the air twinkled around us with fairy dust.  That memory is like medicine to me, or like a spell to keep away loneliness forever.

Tell us about a sound that brings you joy.

little yellow duckling swimming towards the camera
Moving water.  Waves, rain on water, even fountains plashing or sprinklers hissing.  I grew up in a house that overlooked Tampa Bay, and I think water is the background music to all my happy childhood memories.

What recent book have you read that brought you joy. (Or a book you read in your life that brought you so much joy you’ve never forgotten it.) Why?

The Wishing Star cover
When I was in sixth or seventh grade, I checked out of the library a book called THE WISHING STAR by Norma Johnston.  It was so beautiful, the imagery so vivid, the characters so delightful, that I read it over and over.  I’m pretty sure it was while reading that book that I decided I wanted to be a writer.  I wanted to be able to create sparkling, snowy worlds like that.  When I grew up, I looked for another copy of that book for decades and finally found one, thanks to the power of internet searches! I re-read it every few years, just to remember that joy of discovery.

Pick your Chris! Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pine, Chris Pratt, Chris Rock, Chris Evans or Christopher Plummer.

Hmmm…from that list, I’d have to say Christopher Plummer.  The Sound of Music is one of my favorite films, and Maria’s softening effect on him makes their romance so touching–a real Beauty and the Beast story!  But if I could pick any Christopher out there in the big, wide world, I’d pick Christopher Eccleston, who played the 9th Doctor on Doctor Who.  He’d be a little gritty for me, ordinarily, but he was the first Doctor I met (I hadn’t ever seen the earlier series), and you know what they say about your first. 🙂

DRAWING!

Everyone who comments here will be entered, and on September 1st one randomly chosen poster will be offered a 25.00 Amazon gift certificate, and this wonderful plaque, with the quote I mentioned earlier about the song in your heart.
friend is someone

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redman photo 115 fb kids fav scarf vert headshotI’m over at Jaunty Quills today, talking about all the great advice I’ve received…but didn’t take.

I might even be complaining, just a little, about all the great advice I’ve given that got ignored. 😉

I hope you can join me over there and tell me what the best advice you ever got was. Now that I’m not a kid anymore, I’m absolutely willing to listen!

betting on cowboy box of booksAlso, I’ll be giving away a book to one lucky poster, so if you haven’t read BETTING ON THE COWBOY yet, this is a great chance to win a copy! If you’ve already read it, you can pick another title! You can even put your “win” in a savings account, if you’d like to wait for the newest Bell River book, THE RANCH SHE LEFT BEHIND. It’ll be out in December!

Hope to see you over at JAUNTY QUILLS!

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fireworks postcardHappy Fourth of July, everyone! I hope your plans are either super exciting or super relaxing, depending on what your heart craves today!

Over at Jaunty Quills this morning, I’m blogging about seizing the day–about grabbing a joy and cherishing it, even if you know it can’t possibly last. Would you do that? Or would you rather play it safe, and avoid the heartache of losing the joy later?beach postcard 2

I hope you can stop by and tell me what you think.

One poster will win a copy of BETTING THE COWBOY! So if you can hop out of the pool long enough to check out the blog, I’d love to see you there!

Meanwhile, be careful when you light those candles…brief or otherwise! 🙂

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I hate starting a new book.

I’m probably not supposed to say that. First Rule of Social Media Club seems to be “Never talk about negativity.”

StubbornBut darn it. I hate starting a new book.

I’ve sold forty books. It ought to be a snap, right? Nope. I’m scared to death every time. What if I can’t think of anything new? What if the characters are just finger puppets? What if the plot’s too stale, or too thin, or too impenetrable? What if the well’s run dry, or the Muse has departed?

As I start out, I usually have names, a basic conflict, a theme-ish-sort-of-kind-of-idea-thing…and that’s about it. Obviously that’s not enough. I’m still a stranger in my own story. I wouldn’t know these people if I saw them on the street. I have no idea what they want, or how to help them get it.

blind man's bluffSo for some indeterminate, tortuous time, I stumble around with my hands out, feeling for walls and identifying markers, bumping into things like a kid playing Blind Man’s Bluff.

Yeah. Hate this part.

But apparently there’s no avoiding it. There’s only the hope of getting through it.

I’m just beginning the fourth book in my Sisters of Bell River Ranch series–a series I’ve loved so far. WILD FOR THE SHERIFF came out earlier this year, and I’ve received such nice mail about it from readers–hurray, hurray! betting on cowboy box of books
BETTING ON THE COWBOY
comes out in just a few days, and got a great 4.5-star review from Romantic Times Book Reviews. (Also hurray!) Book Three, THE RANCH SHE LEFT BEHIND will be out in December, and is safely written and in my brilliant editor’s hands.

But now…now I have to start from scratch again. This fourth and final book in the series will be about the Secret Sister. The one Rowena, Bree and Penny didn’t ever know they had. I’ve been so excited about this book. Tess’s story always seemed like the “fun” one, the one I couldn’t wait to write.

Then it really was time to write it, and suddenly the enthusiasm evaporated. For the past two weeks, this “fun” book looked as terrifying, as dark and shadowy and fraught with unanswered questions as every other book I’ve ever written. Blind Man’s Bluff…and I was losing.

great ideaHere’s the great thing, though. Eventually, if I soldier on, allowing myself to bump and hunt and face the fears, I reach the “aha” moment. The blindfold comes off, the light flicks on, and suddenly I can *see* the story. The people. The places. “Ohhhh,” I say, blinking happily. “So that’s what you look like!”

Yesterday, at my critique group meeting, it happened. AHA! Tess Spencer is no longer just “the secret sister.” Her story is no longer a dark, shadowy landscape filled with half-perceived obstacles. out of focus man

And best of all, because I’m a hero-driven storyteller, Jude Calhoun isn’t just “The Hero.” They are both real people with fears and flaws and dreams and quirks.

And I like them. Whew! Hugs and kisses to my clever critique partners!

How about you? When you start something new, are you excited and invigorated–or intimidated, like me?

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betting on cowboy box of booksHi, ladies! Thank you all so much for stopping by and making me smile about cowboys yesterday! It was a wonderful break from revisions! 🙂 The three randomly chosen winners this time are

EllenToo
MADerbin
Virginia C.

Congratulations! Please email me at KOBrien@aol.com so that I can get your snail-mail address, and which books you’d like!

I wish I could send books to everyone…and maybe someday I will! So don’t go too far…

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betting on cowboy box of booksMy author copies of my July Superromance, BETTING ON THE COWBOY, have arrived, and to celebrate I’m giving away one copy to someone who posts here today!

BETTING ON THE COWBOY is Bree’s story. She’s the middle Wright sister, the cool blonde who earned the nickname “Ice Maiden,” and probably would have kept it all her life…if it hadn’t been for Gray Harper, the bad-boy turned cowboy who is hot enough to melt even the coldest heart.

If you haven’t read Rowena’s story, WILD FOR THE SHERIFF, I’ll include one of those, too! Rowena, the oldest Wright sister, found love in the first book of The Sisters of Bell River Ranch series. Dallas Garwood, the guy she left behind–the one her crazy father shot–is now the sheriff of Silverdell, Colorado, and a divorced father of a little boy who is almost as irresistible as his dad! 😉 You don’t need to have read WILD to enjoy BETTING ON THE COWBOY, but I love all the Wright sisters so much I don’t want to play favorites! 😉
redman photo 107 horiz with bookHope to see you here soon! I’ll be doing revisions on THE RANCH SHE LEFT BEHIND, book three of the series. They’ll keep me pretty busy all day, so I’ll check back at midnight to pick the winner!

PS…Don’t you think this cover hero looks a little like Jake Gyllenhaal? I think this is a very, very good thing. 😉

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Prueba1675

I have a problem.

I can’t get rid of any books, no matter how crowded and chaotic my shelves have become.

I’m not sure why. Yes, I grew up with thousands of books–as seen here, in this picture of me reading to my daddy in our library, my favorite room in the house.in library with daddy

And yet, my dearest, most simpatico buddy, who has been my best friend since I was four years old and came from a very similar book-oriented family, doesn’t struggle with this. Once I said to her, “Oh, wouldn’t you just love to own all the Jane Austen books in beautiful hardcover editions?” But she simply shook her head. “Not really,” she said calmly. “You can always get those from the library.”

And she’s right, of course. Because of her saner attitude, her house is clean and neat and tidy, and I envy the heck out of it.

Mine is a mess. library bookstore

My office, particularly, is out of control right now, and if I could just free up some space on the shelves to store other things…But I can’t seem to make the tough decisions.

bookcase
Every day, I wake up determined to weed out. Every day, I come in, stare at the shelves, and walk away again, unable to part with any book, no matter how old or new, read or unread, paperback or hard, illustrated or not, classic or quirky.

I know some of you must have conquered this problem! I’d be so grateful if you’d share! What guidelines do you use? Is there some rule I could apply that would make the amputations easier?

I’d truly love to know what the key is to letting go.

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